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The Office of The State Fire Marshal offers winter heating safety tips.

carbon monoxide detector
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Illinoisans will be turning up their thermostats to stay warm for the rest of the winter season, which brings an increased risk for home fires and carbon monoxide incidents.

The State Fire Marshal’s office is offering tips for winter heating safety. To avoid fires, keep chimneys and furnaces clean. If you use space heaters, plug them directly into a wall outlet, not an extension cord and be sure to keep them 3 feet away from anything that can catch fire.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless and odorless gas only detectable by special devices and alarms. Install CO detectors and be sure they are functioning properly. It’s also important to check and test these alarms monthly and replace any broken or expired alarms with sealed 10-year battery alarms. You can see a full list of winter heating safety tips on our website.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when it comes to winter heating safety:

  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional, and change furnace filters frequently.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters, or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Keep interior and exterior air vents clear of blockages or obstructions.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like a furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before being placed into a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Create a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Test smoke and CO alarms at least once a month and be familiar with the sounds they make.
  • Never use an oven or range to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn off portable or space heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on each floor of your home and within 15 feet of each sleeping area.
  • CO detectors have a limited life span; check the manufacturer’s instructions for information on replacement.
Leah Lerner is a media writer, producer, and announcer at WSIU Public Broadcasting located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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